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RootsTech Presenter Interview: D. Joshua Taylor

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[Editor’s Note: we continue with our series of interviews with various genealogy industry personalities who are presenting sessions at the upcoming RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City, UT, February 10-12, 2011]

Here is a brief interview with D. Joshua Taylor who will present What Can I Find Online: An Interactive Case Study on Saturday, February 12, 2011. Josh is Director of Education and Programs at the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

Many of those just entering the genealogy and family history field believe they can find almost anything online in terms of their own genealogy research. Do you think this is true?

Well, there is certainly a difference between “finding anything” online and “finding everything.” While the Internet is full of terrific, unique resources for genealogists – there are still thousands of records not accessible online. Just think of records sitting in your local community that might never appear online. Documents lie undiscovered in libraries, courthouses, and attics everyday – and while information is becoming accessible online at an incredibly accelerated rate, it simply isn’t all there.

My advice? While searching for your ancestors online, use the internet to LEARN about what records are available. The educational offerings are a real hidden gem of the online world.

Is it possible that there is “too much” on the Internet? Or is it a matter of searching effectively and having a set of search tools and techniques specific to genealogy?

Too much? Well, I don’t ever think you can have too many records – at a library or online!

Effective search techniques are a large part of wading through all the data online, but that is only a start! Working with technology developers to create search tools catered towards genealogists is an important step (one of the reasons why I am incredibly excited about the idea of RootsTech). In addition, we (as genealogists) need to reach out to other researchers and work to adapt their techniques in our own online searching. Those empty search boxes are incredibly tempting, but everyone needs to take time to consider their approach when examining a website,before typing a name and clicking “Search.”

What is the most unusual resource you’ve used on the Internet that helped your own genealogy or the genealogy of a client?

What a difficult question! There are so many unique resources out there for research. One online database, Early American Imprints, provided me with an essential clue when I was working on of my own lines. These pamphlets, leaflets, and other printed materials from early America are surely unique – and I actually first encountered the database when doing research on a history project, unrelated to genealogy.

Finally, give us your thoughts on RootsTech and its importance to the genealogical community.

In a single word? Revolutionary! The need for genealogists to reach out to technology creators Is a missing link between our research needs and available (or future) technology. The opportunity for both communities to gather, network, and learn from one another provides the perfect environment to develop new technologies that will benefit everyone researching their family history. I literally can’t WAIT to see what happens at RootsTech!

Disclosure: I have been designated as a RootsTech Official Blogger which entitles me to certain perks including free registration and more. Please see Disclosure Statements for more information on my material connection with RootsTech, FamilySearch and other genealogy vendors.

©2011, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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